Your Charter School Worked! Don't Do It Again.

Times are good for charter schools, thanks to $4 billion worth of carrots (apples?) from the Department of Education, encouraging states to lift restrictions on charters. From today's Wall Street Journal.

In recent weeks, seven states have lifted restrictions, a spokesman for the department says. Tennessee, for instance, passed a law that raises the state's limit on the number of charter schools to 90 from 50 and allows more students to qualify for entry. Illinois doubled its limit on the total number of charter schools to 120.

Good news, but this was what really caught my attention:

The Chicago Public School system has been near its limit on the number of charters it could grant. Until recently, state law limited the number of charters to 30—and only 15 were allowed to "replicate," or open multiple campuses.

Just goes to show how very, very far charter schools are from the dream of a market-based school system. By capping the number of charters and explicitly prohibiting successful schools from opening new campuses, all the power to bring about more generalized reform is drained away. A wildly successful education entrepreneur has no hope of scaling up, and total screw up can roll cheerfully along as long as state bureaucrats renew his charter every five years. Success gets a pat on the head, and failure a slap on the wrist. Raising the cap on the number of charters from 60 to 120 (Chicago alone has 600 schools) is worth exactly bupkis in the cause of larger market reform. The gale of creative destruction is a gentle breeze, at best.

A lucky break for a few thousand kids, though. 

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  • ||

    There's something fundamentally asinine in letting the failed vendor of a service decide whether the successful vendor can expand their operations.

    Separation of school and state is crucial for America's future.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Hell, we might have to wait a generation for there to be enough charter school kids to force the states to let more kids get a decent education.

    -jcr

  • Space Fiend||

    Why so negative? Sure, there is a long way to go, but this is a good thing. Let's be happy with that.

  • ||

    My favorite charter school story is the one about the school in Nampa, Idaho using the Bible as a textbook.

  • Space Fiend||

    So what? Nothing wrong with teaching what you believe to an audience that opts-in.

  • ev||

    I was in the first graduating class of Indiana's first charter school, Signature School. I've never understood the name either.

    It was ranked the 54th best high school in the country that year in Newsweek and I think it was 26th or 36th this year. It also stunted many a child's social growth. That place had a lot weird, weird stuff going on.

    I've never understood the argument against charter schools. Is there even one semi-coherent reason for NOT having more/as many as needed? What is the rationale, simply that because the government isn't directly running the school it is sure to be a rat's nest?

  • ||

    And Arne Duncan is now Secretary of Education...

    This is extra crappy since I have a kid rapidly approaching school age. It's like Chicago is asking, then arm-twisting, its professionals with kids to move to the suburbs.

  • The Chad||

    Ev, care to elaborate on the 'weird, weird stuff?'
    Charter schools are a threat to gov't and teacher union power. I think there was a reason TV vid on it early on.

  • Mike||

    //This is extra crappy since I have a kid rapidly approaching school age. It's like Chicago is asking, then arm-twisting, its professionals with kids to move to the suburbs.//

    Saw a shirt the other day (a baby shirt) - "Please Mommy, Don't Move Me to Naperville"

  • ||

    It also stunted many a child's social growth. That place had a lot weird, weird stuff going on.

    I think you could say that about nearly any high school in this country.

    -jcr

  • ||

    I've never understood the argument against charter schools. Is there even one semi-coherent reason for NOT having more/as many as needed?

    Of course there are! They just happen to be reasons that have nothing to do with any benefit to the kids or the community as a whole.

    -jcr

  • Robert||

    Think long term. Consider the trend. If it continues this way for the next 50-100 yrs., won't that be something?

  • ev||

    The Chad---

    It was an awesome school but there was a lot of weirdness to it. It was lefty as FUCK and indoctrinated pretty much every student to be near-socialistic. This was something I wasn't able to tackle until I was far far away. It also attracted a large gay population (NTTAWWT!). No joke, my junior/senior years there I'd say 25-35% of the students were bi or gay. My gaydar is, as a result, a goddamn super power. I can spot gay fish in murky waters.

    My graduating class was only 54 kids and the school was hovering around 250. You didn't get the diversity that other, bigger schools inherently have. When I went to college I found myself direly lacking in normal social skills, not being able to deal with anyone other than those who fit into the very small culture that I was used to in high school.

    I did skip school often, though. They loved me and I could get away with anything. Once I got caught by my then-current biology teacher at like 1 in the afternoon at McDonald's. A friend and I just left school and got something to eat and dicked around for like three hours. She didn't say anything. Awwesome.

  • ||

    It was lefty as FUCK and indoctrinated pretty much every student to be near-socialistic.

    I went to a public high school in Fairfax County, VA. There was a social studies teacher there who was very popular with all the left-wing kids; I was never in his class.

    I saw a handout he gave to his students, which was his version of the Libertarian platform, distorted beyond all recognition by his pinko bias. He had given this out, saying "This is the libertarian platform, it should be good for a laugh". That was when I realized that public school teachers are statist propagandists, especially the ones that pose as "anti-establishment" hipsters.

    I also remember one teacher I had for "US-VA government", who had a conniption when I brought up the subject of school vouchers in a class discussion. From her reaction, you'd think I'd strangled her cat.

    -jcr

  • BruceM||

    Schools, like prisons and healthcare, are one of those few things that should not be privately-run and operated for a profit. Schools are not supposed to be profitable. The incentives are all wrong. At least, unless you want all the schools to give all the students A's by default. Everyone gets an A+ and we make lots of money. It has to be run by the government. So do prisons and healthcare.

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